Year 2000 No. 10, January 21, 2000

"Let the Truth Be Told"

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

"Let the Truth Be Told"

Wandsworth Council Workers’ Further Strike Plan

Workers' Movement News In Brief
Job Losses at West Midlands Car-Parts Company
Lay-Offs at Staffs Electrical Engineers Firm
ITN Staff Vote to Strike
Train Drivers Call Six One-Day Strikes
Merseyside Train Drivers to Strike
CAB Staff Strike

News In Brief
BT Buys Out Ocean
ONS Survey Concludes British Companies Among Most Profitable
Britain’s Income Disparity Greater Than Ever

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"Let the Truth Be Told"

Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972, has become a symbol of the viciousness and bankruptcy of the policy of the British ruling class of the partition of Ireland and the annexation of the six counties. WDIE joins with all those who are demonstrating on Saturday, January 22, 2000, to demand "Let the truth be told" about the events of Bloody Sunday and to bring those responsible, at the highest level, to justice.

The people of the north of Ireland, particularly the republican movement, are to be congratulated at this historic juncture, for achieving an important step in building the Irish nation anew with the setting up of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly. It has been achieved in the face of the disruptive and divisive machinations of successive British governments to derail it through all kinds of means. The government has been forced to acknowledge the right to self-determination of the Irish people as a whole, admitting that "Northern Ireland" is a disputed territory, and to give practical ground in the face of the determination of the republican movement, as well as progressive and democratic opinion, that the domination of Ireland by the English bourgeoisie can never be accepted. The conflict in the north of Ireland was born of the British government’s involvement. The slaughter by British paratroops of the 14 young demonstrators on a peaceful march in Derry against internment without trial has come to lodge itself in the people’s consciousness as to how brutal, inhuman and unjust has been that involvement.

Now that the society in the north of Ireland is moving out of that conflict, the struggle for a united Ireland is taking another form, but one no less intense and dangerous. The aim of the big powers, of Britain, the US, the European Union, is to replace physical violence by what could be termed economic violence. That is, they wish to dominate and economically rape Ireland and the Irish people as a whole, to impose their conception of "the nation" as opposed to that of the Irish working class and people. The experience of the workers of Britain and other capitalist countries around the world is showing that the bourgeoisie’s conception is to put all the nation’s assets at the disposal of the financial oligarchy, to be utilised for the making of maximum profit on the altar of being competitive in the global marketplace. In other words, it is to destroy the national economy and the fabric of society.

Whilst the progress towards Irish reunification is putting pressure on the English bourgeoisie, it is necessary to recognise that the government is also attempting to utilise developments to both militarise the economy at home and facilitate intervention abroad, particularly in Europe, as well as sowing all kinds of illusions that they are a force for progress. The north of Ireland is one example where the government attempts to take credit where no credit is due to them. The anniversary of Bloody Sunday is a stark reminder of the nature of the English bourgeoisie. The government has always claimed to be a "humanitarian" force, a force for "toleration", in the north of Ireland, just as it today claims that its intentions globally are for "humanitarian" reasons, that it takes the moral high-ground. But the way governments since 1972 have fought every inch of the way to prevent the truth of Bloody Sunday coming to light betrays their guilty conscience, and exposes their "humanitarianism" as a cover for cut-throat self-interest on the world stage.

The workers of England, of Scotland and of Wales must renew their struggles, alongside their class sisters and brothers in Ireland, to sweep aside the barriers to the progress of society, which the government is still working might and main to keep in place. As in Ireland, so in England, Scotland and Wales the government’s record is a failure to solve the problems of society and prevent the peoples establishing modern sovereign states. Let the working class and peoples of these nations unite to end the class rule of the English bourgeoisie.

Bloody Sunday March, London, Saturday 22nd January 2000
Assemble 12 noon at Whitehall Place (Charing Cross or Embankment, London)
Bloody Sunday, Derry, Ireland, 1972

"LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD"

Article Index


Wandsworth Council Workers’ Further Strike Plan

Wandsworth Council workers are to once again take to the streets in protest at the council’s proposals to introduce measures to penalise workers who take sick leave.

At a UNISON branch meeting on Tuesday, the workers voted unanimously to take strike action next Wednesday, January 26, and on two further days – Wednesday and Thursday, February 2-3. This action follows the one-day strike held in November last year. The council’s proposals would mean that staff would have to work back or pay back days off ill, over and above a certain threshold, which is still being negotiated, but which the council propose should be six days. The council is also proposing to implement a reduction in annual leave entitlement by three to five days, time which could be "earned back" for low sickness absence. There are also plans to withhold pay rises from workers with an "adverse record" of absence due to illness, and to increase the present probationary period for new staff from six months to nine months.

The workers have accused the council of "punishing its staff for being ill", saying that the council is interested not in the welfare of its staff or in the causes of illness, but purely in forcing a greater attendance record. As it is, Wandsworth has one of the lowest rates of absence due to illness of all the London boroughs.

The council workers also point out that the work back/pay back sick code is discriminatory against women staff as, according to council figures, 20 per cent of women employees are being monitored by management in the current sickness scheme, compared to ten per cent of male employees.

Phillip Bradley, UNISON staff side secretary, said, "There is continuing evidence of the negative impact on staff recruitment in Wandsworth and worries over possible inconsistencies in the viability of applying the scheme across the board."

The council says that the issue that has to be addressed is that the government itself has issued a paper calling for local authorities to reduce staff sickness absence by 30% by 2003.

Article Index


Workers’ Movement News In Brief

Job Losses at West Midlands Car-Parts Company

TRW Automotive Electronics cut the jobs of 415 workers on Wednesday. The company makes ignition products and other car parts, and is to discontinue the manufacturing of sensors and actuators, and concentrate on the production of solenoids and the design and manufacture of steering systems.

The company is making the 415 workers redundant at two factories in Birmingham which it acquired from the former LucasVarity group only eight months ago. It said its decision was "market driven".

Lay-Offs at Staffs Electrical Engineers Firm

Alstom T&D of Lichfield, Staffordshire, is to lay off up to 530 workers over the next year. The electrical engineering company said this was because of demands from its French parent company for overhead cuts.

ITN Staff Vote to Strike

The results of ballots which closed on January 13 showed that journalists and technicians at ITN (Independent Television News) had voted by 80% majorities to back industrial action.

The ITN staff will stage a 24-hour walkout on January 27 and a four-hour stoppage on January 31, coinciding with the start of an ITN contract to supply GMTV with news, unless there is a breakthrough during talks at the conciliation service ACAS. The staff are opposing ITN’s proposals to introduce night working for all employees, as part of plans to turn the station into a 24-hour news channel. The staff point out that by forcing everyone to work unsocial hours, ITN will cause massive disruption to their family lives. They also object to proposals to introduce a five-day working week across the board.

NUJ deputy general secretary John Fray said that staff were determined to protect their right to a decent family life. Broadcasting union BECTU official Sharon Elliott accused ITN of trying to subsidise its expansion through attacks on staff.

Train Drivers Call Six One-Day Strikes

Train drivers are to take strike action against Connex South Eastern and Connex South Central. The six 24-hour strikes are to be held on January 25 and February 2, 10, 18, 21 and 29. The workers are also to ban non-contractual overtime from January 25.

ASLEF has been trying to negotiate a 35-hour week for the drivers, but the union’s general secretary Mick Rix said that there had been a "serious breakdown" of industrial relations at Connex. The RMT union is also to ballot for strike action in protest at the state of industrial relations at the company.

Merseyside Train Drivers to Strike

Train drivers at Merseyrail Electrics have voted by an 89% majority in a ballot closing on January 14 to take strike action. They say there has been a breakdown in industrial relations.

CAB Staff Strike

Workers at the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) took strike action on Tuesday to oppose the management plan to introduce a system of performance-related pay. The 300 staff from London and around the country say that this will effectively result in pay cuts. Workers picketed the NACAB head office in London. They plan further action if the management refuse to make an improved offer. MSF union representative Anne Ketley said, "Staff are shocked that an organisation that provides vital advice and assistance to people with debt problems seems determined to risk plunging its staff into debt through effective pay cuts." The NACAB management say that the Department of Trade and Industry is forcing them to impose pay restraint, and as a result they are strapped for cash.

Article Index


NEWS IN BRIEF

BT Buys Out Ocean

BT has bought the 50% share it did not already own in Ocean Communications, the Irish telecoms group. The deal is worth £130 million. BT plans to integrate Ocean, a fixed-line operator with more than 100,000 subscribers, with Esat, Ireland’s second-largest telecoms group, which it is in the process of acquiring for £1.2 billion. BT is buying the stake from Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board and AIG, the US insurance group.

ONS Survey Concludes British Companies Among Most Profitable

During the second half of the 1990s, British companies consistently had a higher level of profitability than rivals in the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Spain and The Netherlands, according to data published on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics. This is particularly true in the service sector. Profitability was measured by return on capital employed. This is largely attributable, according to the author of the study, to higher prices, at least from 1990 to 1996, and also prices were "a key driver of profitability in the services sector". The figures for the services sector, which show a profitability of about 15% in recent years, include those for retailing, a sector which is currently being scrutinised by the Competition Commission as it looks into the profitability of the supermarket industry.

Britain’s Income Disparity Greater Than Ever

An economic study released on January 15 shows that not only are the low paid worse off in relative terms than they were 20 years ago, but they also find it more difficult to progress from low to higher paying jobs. The report is published in the January issue of the Economic Journal published by the Royal Economic Society. "Possibly the most striking phenomenon in the British labour market over the last couple of decades has been the massive rise in wage inequality," economist Richard Dickens wrote in the report. "Wage differentials have risen to a degree that pay inequality is now higher than at any time over the last century."

The study tracked male wage earners from 1975 to 1995. It found also that the spread between low and high earners increased to a greater extent among non-manual workers than among manual workers. City of London bonuses were as high as a record £2 million at the end of 1999, while the study suggests that the lowest earners are unlikely to move off the bottom rung.

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